Warning: SPOILERS will follow!
“Everyone likes Barry Allen, you’re like pudding. Everybody likes pudding”, Felicity Smoak (guest star Emily Bett-Rickards) remarked as she listened to Barry’s concerns over his “new” co-worker’s unwelcoming attitude towards him. Since returning to his original timeline from last week’s “Flashpoint” (5×01) timeline, Barry (Grant Gustin) has noticed some small and also not so small changes to his life, and the lives of his friends and family. Naturally, Barry turns to his good friend Felicity for advice, and we find ourselves starting this episode in Star City nestled deep inside the Arrow Cave; instead of on the streets of Central City. I’m not sure why the writers decided to have Barry confide in Felicity, but I will take any reason as an excuse to have Felicity Smoak on my TV screen. Before we immerse ourselves in “Paradox,” let’s talk about one big “Flashpoint” side effect involving John Diggle. As Barry scrolls through Felicity’s computers, he notices a picture of Dig holding a smiling baby… boy? Wait a second… the viewers and Barry both come to the realization that for the time being baby Sara has been replaced with baby John. At the same time, Felicity and TV viewers were yelling at Barry to fix the timeline, “Now!”
Which brings us to Central City, to summarize the side effects involving Team Flash: Barry has a co-worker Julian Albert (Tom Felton) who despises him for unknown reasons, Iris and Joe aren’t talking because he kept the secret about her mom being alive from her and Cisco’s brother Dante was killed in a drunk driving accident. In trying to save his own family, Barry has essentially fractured the family he had created for himself over the years.
Viewers and Barry Allen are first introduced to Julian Albert when Joe stops by the CSI Lab to drop off another skin husk that metahumans have seemed to be leaving all over Central City. Are they shedding their skin? Does this have anything to do with Alchemy? Those questions don’t seem to matter because, Draco Malfory, I mean Julian Albert will deal with it. Tom Felton transfers over from film to TV seamlessly. He is a fine addition to the cast, and finally we have an adversary for not only Barry Allen, but perhaps for The Flash.
Edward Clariss (Todd Lasance) pops back up in this episode, and is haunted by a mysterious voice taunting him and scrawling “Alchemy” on glass surfaces. Clariss tracks down Alchemy and becomes The Rival again now in this universe. We are introduced to Alchemy in person who has to be one of the creepiest villains ever. Before The Rival and The Flash meet up for a “Flashpoint” rematch, Team Flash suffers though an - in the words of a morose Cisco - “epic fail” dinner party hastily put together by Barry’s need to make up for the damage he caused. Iris and Joe do not resolve their issues and Cisco remains angry at Barry for not going back in time to prevent the death of his brother. A series of events finally prompts Barry to go back and try to fix this timeline. As he tries to run back he is suddenly pulled from The Speed Force by Jay Garrick. No, not that Jay Garrick, the real Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp) aka The Flash on Earth 2. Jay Garrick and Barry Allen enter a diner in the year 1998 (with Dawson’s Creek playing on a TV in the background which is a nod to Shipp’s role in that series) for a Flash to Flash talk, or to viewers and Barry, a father to son talk. Jay explains the consequences of time travel to Barry, and he tells him that no matter how many times he tries to go back and fix the timeline there will always be some side effects, there will always be something different. One of the best quotes from this episode is when Jay Garrick says, “We aren’t gods. We’re men.” This is the guidance Barry has needed for the past two seasons. Finally, Barry is honest with his team… his family and explains the “Flashpoint” timeline to them with mixed responses. Cisco is still angry with Barry, Caitlin appeared disappointed, Joe, Iris and Wally were confused. These scenes with Barry taking responsibility for his actions and explaining himself conveyed a new Barry Allen to me. I think the Barry Allen of Season 3 is going to be different; in a good way. This road will lead to the heroic Barry Allen that we’ve all been waiting to see.
As Barry goes to fight The Rival once again, we realize that The Rival has a partner alongside him… Alchemy! Alchemy immediately attacks Barry with his Philosopher’s Stone and just like that magic is a force in play in Central City. Meanwhile over at Star Labs, Iris is trying to rally the team and get them to understand Barry’s actions, “We all make mistakes to protect the people we love” she continues, “One decision made…in one heart wrenching moment” With that speech, Iris had me and Team Flash convinced that Barry could eventually be forgiven for his misuse of time travel. The team then notices that Barry is in trouble, and Cisco suits up in his new Vibe gear to lend a hand to his friend. As Team Flash regroups to speculate about who Alchemy could be, the Cisco we all know and love seems to come out of his shell of grief and quips, “Oh come on, don’t tell me that Dr. Alchemy doesn’t have a nice ring to it”. And it does.
- The #WestAllen ship seems to be sailing. Iris’ role expands in this episode, as she becomes a source of inspiration for not only Barry, but for all of Team Flash. Iris and Barry also share a lovely moment at the end of the episode, “Wherever you go, you’ll always be Barry and I will always be Iris.” The two share a kiss and I’m sure a date night is in the future for them.
- It appears that anyone who had powers in “Flashpoint” will be getting them back. I’m pretty sure we’re going to see more Kid Flash. I just hope with Jesse Quick coming back in the next episode the show isn’t overrun with too many speedsters. On the other hand, perhaps multiple speedsters will be the key to defeating Dr. Alchemy?
-Any guesses as to Dr. Alchemy’s identity? Julian Albert? Another Jay Garrick?
- And finally, the best for last, I do believe Caitlin Snow is going to get her Killer Frost powers! This is exciting for many reasons but mainly because I have been dying to see Danielle Panabaker play a different side of Caitlin. This opens up a world of possibilities for a fantastic actress.
This week it was insanely hard to pick a winner for best CW show episode. The Flash is starting off extremely strong, so is Supergirl and Arrow. We’ll see how Legends of Tomorrow does tonight and I’ll award my weekly points. - Everett